Friday, February 28, 2014

Last Call As Going Insane In The Ukraine Continues

Josh Rogin at the Daily Beast drops this little wrinkle in the whole "Happy democratic ending for Ukraine" deal.

Private security contractors working for the Russian military are the unmarked troops who have now seized control over two airports in the Ukrainian province of Crimea, according to informed sources in the region. And those contractors could be setting the stage for ousted President Viktor Yanukovich to come to the breakaway region.

The new Ukrainian government in Kiev has accused Moscow of “an armed invasion and occupation” in the Crimean cities of Simferopol and Sevastopol, where well-armed and well-organized troops with no markings or identification have taken control of the airports. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Secretary of State John Kerry over the phone Friday that no Russian military or marines have been deployed outside of the base of the Black Sea Fleet, which is anchored nearby, officials in both governments said.

Lavrov was technically telling the truth, but the troops are being directed by the Russian government. Although not confirmed, informed sources in Moscow are telling their American interlocutors that the troops belong to Vnevedomstvenaya Okhrana, the private security contracting bureau inside the Russian interior ministry that hires mercenaries to protect Russian Navy installations and assets in Crimea. Other diplomatic sources said that the troops at the airport were paramilitary troops but not specifically belonging to Vnevedomstvenaya Okhrana.
 “They don’t have Russian military uniforms and the Russia government is denying they are part of the Russian military. Actually most of them may be Ukrainian citizens. But these are people that are legally allowed to perform services to the Russian fleet,” said Dimitri Simes, president of the Center for the National Interest.

There's a price for crossing Vladimir Putin, as Ukraine is finding out the hard way.  Meanwhile, whoever these guys belong to, they control the airports in Ukraine's southernmost provinces, with Crimea province bordering the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.  In other words, these guys now have options should they want to cause more trouble by land, sea, or air:

The several billion dollar question: What's the Obama administration's response?

Your Friday Afternoon StupidiVideo

GLaDOS helps NASA and explains nuclear fusion vs. nuclear fission.

We do what we must, because we can.

The Last Days Of BitPompeii

Looks like Mt. Gox has exploded in a veritable mountain of bullshit.

The troubled MtGox Bitcoin exchange filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan Friday, saying it had lost nearly half a billion dollars worth of the digital currency in a possible theft.


Mark Karpeles, who has not been seen in public for several days, re-emerged to tell a press conference that his firm's digital vaults had been almost completely emptied.

"We have lost Bitcoins due to weaknesses in the system," the France-born Karpeles said in Japanese.

"We are really sorry for causing trouble to all the people concerned," he said, before bowing deeply.

The company's lawyer said 750,000 Bitcoins belonging to customers had gone, along with MtGox's own store of the currency, which she said was around 100,000 units.

Ahh Bitcoin, the safe, stateless world commodity/currency of the future, running smack into that oldest and most venerable of human frailties, greed.  It was only a matter of time, yadda yadda yadda.  So somebody has half a billion in digital money and a lot of suckers got bilked.

Why, Bitcoin almost seems like the ultimate glibertarian meltdown.  Funny how that works.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Last Call For Veteran Levels Of Stupid

To recap, Republicans in the Senate blocked a bill to help wounded veterans because mean ol' Harry Reid wouldn't let the GOP add an amendment authorizing new Iran sanctions, which would sabotage our foreign policy and undermine President Obama.

In a 56-41 vote Thursday, the motion to waive a budget point of order against the bill failed, as Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to overcome the Republican roadblock.

GOP Sens. Dean Heller (Nev.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) voted with Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) refused to allow a GOP substitute amendment to get an up-or-down vote because it included Iran sanctions, which he said were unrelated to veterans’ issues.

“I hope all the veterans groups have witnessed all the contortions the Republicans have done to defeat this bill,” Reid said Thursday. “Shame on Republicans for bringing base politics into a bill to help veterans.”

Amazing.  Here's what the GOP blocked:

Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) bill, S. 1982, would have expanded veterans' healthcare programs, given veterans in-state tuition rates at all schools across the country and provided advanced appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

It also sought to permanently fix a cut to the growth rate of veterans' pensions. Earlier this year, Congress passed a bill to avoid a cut in the growth rate for current service members and veterans, but anyone enlisting after 2013 would still see a cut. Sanders’s bill would have eliminated that cut as well.

Nope, can't have that.  Gotta have the Senate minority run our foreign policy instead of the President and State Department, because Obama Derangement Syndrome.

The Aftermath Of Arizona's Bill

With Gov. Brewer vetoing the "religious freedoms" bill, Republicans are walking away from the doomed strategy to try to enshrine legalized discrimination into law.  The Arizona disaster has now led Ohio lawmakers to pull a similar bill introduced earlier this year.

One of the sponsors of the religious freedom bill being considered in the Ohio legislature, Democratic Representative Bill Patmon, says the plan is dead.

“We are pulling the entire bill — not just support or anything, but the bill is being pulled off the legislative agenda by my request,” Patmon said.

“There is too much misunderstanding and misinterpretation in this particular case and when you find that, then you have to maybe go back to the drawing board…”

Patmon says he was pushing the bill because he wanted to make sure there were protections for people who wear a cross necklace, a yarmulke or some other religious symbol in their workplaces.

But critics of this bill said it could open the door to widespread discrimination of gay Ohioans. Patmon says the language in this bill was not clear enough.

“There are different interpretations of it. That’s a concern for me. I don’t want different interpretations whether it is the ACLU or someone else. There should be only one. And that is to make sure people have religious freedom,” Patmon added.

Bill Patmon may have believed the bill was about religious freedom, but it's not.  It's about weakening civil rights legislation, period.  And the bill apparently was so bad that Ohio Republicans, which last year enacted some of the worst anti-choice regulations in the country and may leave the greater Cincinnati area's 2.2 million people without a single legal abortion provider by October, have scrapped the bill entirely.  Even they won't touch it now after what happened in Arizona.

Think about that for a sec.

Under The Gun With Rand

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Unfortunately My State) continues to be a petulant little twit whenever possible, this time putting a hold on President Obama's pick for Surgeon General for the completely radical view that the thousands of preventable gun deaths each year in the US might be a health issue.

On Wednesday — two years to the day after George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) placed a hold on President Barack Obama’s nominee for Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, over Murthy’s view that gun violence represents a significant public health threat.

“In his efforts to curtail Second Amendment rights, Dr. Murthy has continually referred to guns as a public health issue on par with heart disease and has diminished the role of mental health in gun violence,” wrote Paul in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“As a physician, I am deeply concerned that he has advocated that doctors use their position of trust to ask patients, including minors, details about gun ownership in the home… Dr. Murthy has disqualified himself from being Surgeon General because of his intent to use that position to launch an attack on Americans’ right to own a firearm under the guise of a public health and safety campaign.”

Which is funny, because actual physicians and not ones accredited by their own make-believe board like Rand Paul here believe that guns are bad for kids.

In fact, just yesterday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued new guidelines recommending that households with children who are diagnosed with depression should remove guns and ammunition from their homes entirely.

The AAP has long taken a firm stance on the danger that gun violence poses for children. “This should not be a political issue. Gun violence is a public health issue that profoundly affects children and their families,” said AAP president Dr. Thomas K. McInerny in a letter to Congress urging robust gun safety legislation on the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre. “We know what works — strong laws to enforce background checks and safe storage. But our elected leaders need to find a way forward to protect our children.”

But this view, the view of the majority of pediatricians, is of course somehow radical in the eyes of Rand Paul, as he continues to embarrass himself nationally with idiotic grandstanding like this.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Last Call For Messing With Texas

The whole "states banning same-sex marriage thing being unconstitutional" just got very, very real.

A federal judge in San Antonio has declared Texas' ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, however, also issued a stay, meaning the ban stays in effect for the time being.

One lesbian couple had to go to Massachusetts to get married, and they want Texas to recognize the union.

A second gay couple have a courtship of 17 years and want to get married here in their home state.

Both sued the state in federal court aiming to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage, saying it is unconstitutional.

Granted, any Texas decision would go to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is probably not going to be the most open minded group of individuals.  But that's seven federal judges in a row to rule in favor of equality since last June's Supreme Court decision striking down parts of DOMA.

Also, Texas.  Pretty large state, pretty large number of people potentially affected by this ruling.  It's still going to the Supreme Court, but every ruling in favor of equality puts more and more pressure on SCOTUS.  But if banning same-sex marriage is losing in Texas, it's only a matter of time before it's legal across the land, and I'm pretty sure both sides know it.

Too Many People In Ohio Are Voting, Apparently

Ohio's GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted has now officially cut weekends from the state's early voting for 2014, cutting two Saturdays and eliminating all Sunday voting.

Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) released the schedule on Tuesday. During the four weeks leading up to Election Day, voters will be able to cast absentee ballots in person at voting locations that will be open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekdays. The polling locations will also be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the last two Saturdays before the election.

“In 2014, absentee voters will have the option of voting in person for four weeks, or they can vote without ever leaving home by completing the absentee ballot request form we will be sending all voters,” Husted said in a statement. “Our goal is to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat and to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity in the voting process no matter which method they choose.”

If you're wondering why Husted specifically eliminated Sunday voting, well it probably has something to do with this:

Husted’s change would spell doom for a voting method that’s popular among African-Americans in Ohio and elsewhere. Many churches and community groups lead “Souls to the Polls” drives after church on the Sunday before the election.

There’s little doubt that cuts to early voting target blacks disproportionately. In 2008, black voters were 56% of all weekend voters in Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s largest, even though they made up just 28% of the county’s population.

“By completely eliminating Sundays from the early voting schedule, Secretary Husted has effectively quashed successful Souls to the Polls programs that brought voters directly form church to early voting sites,” said Mike Brickner, a spokesman for the Ohio American Civil Liberties Union, in an email.

No Sunday voting, no "Souls to the Polls" push to get black voters to cast their ballots.  It really is that simple.  Eliminate weekend voting, eliminate voting hours after 5 PM, you get fewer working-class Ohians voting who can't take time off because they have to work.

And working-class voters in Ohio tend to vote Democrat.  End of story.  Ohio decided Bush 43's re-election in 2004, folks.  It could happen again, and Husted and the state's GOP is ready for it.

The Freedom To Hate

Last week Kansas's legislation to allow LGBTQ discrimination based on "religious beliefs" died screaming to the state's business community.  Arizona's version of the bill is about to die on the desk of GOP Gov. Jan Brewer.  But the battle is far from over, as more red state Republicans are taking up the legislation of hate.

First, Georgia lawmakers would take the idiocy further...

A bill moving swiftly through the Georgia House of Representatives would allow business owners who believe homosexuality is a sin to openly discriminate against gay Americans by denying them employment or banning them from restaurants and hotels.

The proposal, dubbed the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act, would allow any individual or for-profit company to ignore Georgia laws—including anti-discrimination and civil rights laws—that "indirectly constrain" exercise of religion. Atlanta, for example, prohibits discrimination against LGBT residents seeking housing, employment, and public accommodations. But the state bill could trump Atlanta's protections.

And it's not just same-sex couples who would be discriminated against.

Unlike similar bills introduced in Kansas, Tennessee, and South Dakota, the Georgia and Arizona bills do not explicitly target same-sex couples. But that difference could make the impact of the Georgia and Arizona bills even broader. Legal experts, including Eunice Rho, advocacy and policy counsel for the ACLU, warn that Georgia and Arizona's religious-freedom bills are so sweeping that they open the door for discrimination against not only gay people, but other groups as well. The New Republic noted that under the Arizona bill, "a restaurateur could deny service to an out-of-wedlock mother, a cop could refuse to intervene in a domestic dispute if his religion allows for husbands beating their wives, and a hotel chain could refuse to rent rooms to Jews, Hindus, or Muslims."

The battle is also heating up in Missouri.

A Republican state lawmaker filed legislation Monday that would allow Missouri business owners to cite religious beliefs as a legal justification for refusing to provide service.

Although it doesn’t mention sexual orientation, the bill could provide legal cover for denial of services to same-sex couples.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Wallingford of Cape Girardeau, states that a governmental authority shall not substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion unless the government demonstrates that it has a compelling interest.

To supporters of the idea — similar to legislation filed in several other states — the goal is to make it clear that private individuals can use religious beliefs as a defense in litigation.

“We’re trying to protect Missourians from attacks on their religious freedom,” Wallingford said. 

Remember, "religious freedom" means "the right to openly discriminate".  That's what the Republican Party is up to in 2014, pretending it's 1914.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Last Call For The Eruption Of Mt. Gox

Live by the Bitcoin, die by the Bitcoin.

The Bitcoin-trading website Mt.Gox was taken offline late Monday, putting at risk millions of dollars put there by investors who gambled on the digital currency. The exchange alsodeleted all of its tweets, and Mt.Gox CEO Mark Karpeles resigned from the Bitcoin Foundation's board of directors on Sunday.

The news frightened Bitcoin investors elsewhere, knocking the price down about 3% to $490 -- its lowest level since November.

For now, there's no telling what's behind the shutdown. Mt.Gox did not respond to requests for comment.

However, an unverified document called "Crisis Strategy Draft" that is being circulated online claims Mt.Gox has lost 744,408 of its users' bitcoins, worth nearly $367 million. It also claims Mt.Gox is planning to rebrand itself as Gox.

Good luck with that "rebranding" after possibly losing hundreds of millions to digital theft.  The safe, stateless currency of the future, right?  Oh I know, it was all the NSA's fault, right?

By the time trading at Mt.Gox was halted entirely late Monday, the price of a Bitcoin there had dropped significantly, to $130. Meanwhile it was trading for more than four times that on other exchanges.

Late on Monday, several other Bitcoin exchanges sought to reassure investors and took a harder line with Mt. Gox.

"This tragic violation of the trust of users of Mt.Gox was the result of one company's abhorrent actions and does not reflect the resilience or value of Bitcoin and the digital currency industry," the groups said in a statement.

Everything is fine in the tulip bulb factory.  Please continue to buy more tulip bulbs, and ignore the massive losses of millions!

At the corner of technology and economics is one of the oldest schemes in the book, folks.

A Host Of Lunatics

What's the thought process here, Virginia State GOP Sen. Steve Martin?

Martin, the former chairman of the Senate Education and Health Committee, wrote a lengthy post about his opinions on women's bodies on his Facebook wall last week in response to a critical Valentine's Day card he received from reproductive rights advocates.

"I don't expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive," Martin wrote. "However, once a child does exist in your womb, I'm not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child's host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn't want it." Martin then changed his post on Monday afternoon to refer to the woman as the "bearer of the child" instead of the "host."

Wait what, pregnant women are "hosts" now?  I mean sure, if you consider the kid a parasite or you're from the planet Zergon Prime, pregnant females are "hosts".

Actually, as Ed Kilgore points out, the alien thing does explain the Tea Party, doesn't it.

But this is the standard RTL position, and why most antichoicers oppose “rape and incest” exceptions other than as a matter of tactical flexibility. Once a zygote exists, it’s a person and a baby and has rights equal to (if not superior to, because of its “innocent” nature) the mother, or the “bearer of the child,” or the “host,” or however you want to put it. No interest of the woman in terminating the pregnancy (or even preventing it, if that happens after fertilization) other than preservation of her own life can possibly trump that “right to life.”

And they legislate to that effect, and will keep doing so until it is the law of the entire country, hence the term "anti-choicers" being 100% applicable:  you have no choice but to have the baby.  The "host" is just that, for the term of pregnancy only the baby matters.  The woman becomes merely a vessel and effectively loses rights over her reproductive system from the instant of conception.

Or possible conception, depending on the law.  In other words, if a woman has sex or if it is forced upon her unwillingly (again depending on the law) she loses her rights to her own body because she may from that point on be a "host".

Seems pretty alien to me.

Shutdown Writ Small Could Be A Huge Headache

Will Republicans in Virginia and Arkansas actually pull the government shutdown play to try to trash their state's respective Democratic governors over Medicaid expansion?  Sure looks that way.

Talking to reporters Monday in Washington, where he's been attending the National Governors Association's annual meeting, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D) acknowledged that a shutdown in Little Rock was a possibility. He conceded that the House, where the funding bill is currently stuck, is two votes short of the supermajority needed to approve the federal funding.

But he said he hoped that conservatives in the Arkansas House had learned a lesson from their colleagues in Congress and wouldn't shut down the government over the health care reform law. For now, the state government is funded through June, but according to the Associated Press, lawmakers have warned that the impasse over Medicaid could stop the entire next year's budget from passing.

"There's no telling what kind of hardball somebody could play," Beebe said. "I think last year the Republicans in Congress figured out they didn't want to do that anymore."

"I think the voting public would be very irritated with everybody. It'd be hard to figure out who they're going to blame."

If Republicans shut down Arkansas's state government over Medicaid, they're done.  It'll be a nightmare for them, and they know it.  Same goes for Virginia, where the previous GOP governor Bob McDonnell is now facing corruption charges.  You thought Virginia was turning blue quickly before?  Wait until you mess up a state that already has a lot of government workers.

In Virginia, the Senate has approved a form of Medicaid expansion similar to Arkansas's and Gov. Terry McAuliffe has endorsed it. But conservatives in the House don't want any part of it, taking a symbolic vote last week to voice their opposition.

Now the two chambers are going into a conference to resolve their budget differences, and, unless they break the deadlock over Medicaid, a shutdown is possible there as well, according to the Washington Post. The current session is supposed to end on March 8 and, as in Arkansas, June 30 marks the deadline for approving a new budget to fund the Virginia state government.

Already, Senate Democrats are warning that House conservatives could feel the heat -- as the congressional GOP did during the federal shutdown -- if they close the government's doors over Obamacare.

Multiple state shutdowns four months before midterms?  I bet that's exactly what national Republicans want to see in the news for weeks and weeks.  Please proceed, Republicans.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Last Call For Bobby's World

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal made a national embarrassment out of himself yet again at the National Governor's Association meeting at the White House today.  At a bipartisan meeting of the nation's governors, Jindal threw all pretense of giving a damn about protocol out the window and displayed his Obama Derangement Syndrome, full force.

A group of governors emerged midday Monday from a meeting with President Barack Obama that stressed bipartisan cooperation — but that sentiment didn’t last as far as the White House driveway, as a Republican who’s had bigger political aspirations offered a tough assessment of what he’d heard.

“This president and the White House seems to be waving the white flag of surrender” by focusing on a limited set of executive actions, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told reporters outside the White House, breaking from the comity of the first dozen minutes of a press conference led by National Governors Association chair Mary Fallin (R-Okla.) and vice-chair John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) — and from typically more innocuous readouts describing nearly all meetings as “productive.”
The president spoke repeatedly about raising the minimum wage during his meetings with more than 40 of the nation’s governors, Jindal said — but, argued the Louisiana governor, that’s the wrong place for the White House to be focusing its energies. “The Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy. I think we can do better than that, I think America can do better than that,” said the potential 2016 presidential candidate, suggesting that the president approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, rein in regulations and expand drilling on federal lands to boost economic growth.

Of course Jindal has his own problems, as the guys at Public Policy Polling can attest to.

Bobby Jindal continues to be one of the most unpopular Governors in the country, with only 35% of voters approving of him to 53% who disapprove. Even among Republican primary voters in his home state only 37% want him to run for President, compared to 51%  who think he should sit it out. Mike Huckabee is the top choice of GOP primary voters in the state at 20% to 13% for Jindal, 12% for Ted Cruz, 10% for Rand Paul, 9% for Jeb Bush, 8% each for Chris Christie and Paul Ryan, 7% for Marco Rubio, and 2% for Scott Walker.

Gosh, that 35% approval rating would put him, you know, in a worse spot than President Obama.  Even Rasmussen has the President above the 50% mark here for several days in February 2014.

Perhaps Jindal should keep his mouth shut, since he's no longer relevant by his own logic.

The Dean Of The House Retires

After a staggering 58 years in the House of Representatives, an amazing 29 terms in office, Michigan Democrat John Dingell is retiring at the age of 88 and will not seek a 30th term.

Rep. John Dingell is leaving the Congress he’s served for longer than anyone else in United States history.

At a luncheon Monday in his beloved Downriver, the Dearborn representative says he will announce he won’t seek re-election this fall to the seat he’s held since 1955.

“I’m not going to be carried out feet first,” says Dingell, who will be 88 in July. “I don’t want people to say I stayed too long.”

Dingell says his health “is good enough that I could have done it again. My doctor says I’m OK. And I’m still as smart and capable as anyone on the Hill.

“But I’m not certain I would have been able to serve out the two-year term.”

More than health concerns, Dingell says a disillusionment with the institution drove his decision to retire.

I find serving in the House to be obnoxious,” he says. “It’s become very hard because of the acrimony and bitterness, both in Congress and in the streets.”

The Tea Party is too much even for the "Dean of the House" Dingell.  Here's your fact of the day:

The question now becomes who will succeed Dingell. He won the seat at age 29 after the death of his father, a Depression-era New Dealer who served the district for 20 years.

So the Dingell family has represented the Dearborn, Michigan region in the House since the 30's.  Some 78 years.  That will never happen again in US history.

I'm frankly not sure that it should, either.  Dingell is certainly the last piece of a bygone era, with the passing of Sens. Robert Byrd and Daniel Akaka, and Ted Kennedy.  Dingell's House colleague and fellow Democrat Henry Waxman is also retiring this year.  The old Democrats are soon to be gone.

In their place, the House That Boehner Built.  Do nothing, blame Obama.  Four years from now it will be Do nothing, blame Hillary.  A government that doesn't work.  And increasingly, we're okay with that.

Wishing Hard For The Second Civil War

With bloody protests against the governments of Ukraine, Venezuela, and Thailand happening this month, it was only a matter of time before the sad Tea Party kids started complaining there's not enough revolution here stateside to overthrow Emperor LeBarack Shabazz The Blackness XIV, and our old buddy Instadoofus wonders out loud in USA Today if the "American Spring" is already here.

Meanwhile, in Connecticut a massive new gun-registration scheme is also facing civil disobedience. As J.D. Tuccille reports: "Three years ago, the Connecticut legislature estimated there were 372,000 rifles in the state of the sort that might be classified as 'assault weapons,' and 2 million plus high-capacity magazines. ... But by the close of registration at the end of 2013, state officials received around 50,000 applications for 'assault weapon' registrations, and 38,000 applications for magazines."

This is more "Irish Democracy," passive resistance to government overreach. The Hartford (Conn.) Courant is demanding that the state use background-check records to prosecute those who haven't registered, but the state doesn't have the resources and it's doubtful juries would convict ordinary, law-abiding people for failure to file some paperwork.

Though people have taken to the streets from Egypt, to Ukraine, to Venezuela toThailand, many have wondered whether Americans would ever resist the increasing encroachments on their freedom. I think they've begun.

Now you're probably thinking "Self, Glenn Reynolds comparing A) sharing license plate data across state computer systems, B) the FCC asking newsroom reporters about how news decisions are made, and C) Connecticut's assault rifle registration law all seems really moronic even for him as these events are not anywhere close to the revolutions in Ukraine this last week" and you, well, you'd be right on the money.  But that's where the law professor turned blogger turned USA Today columnist is, that all of this is in fact prima facie evidence that America is on the verge of rising up against our government.

Reynolds is at least mildly subtle about this fever dream.  Donald Douglas over at American Power is not, as he drops the pretense and calls for open, armed insurrection against the US government.

This is our world in America today, a grim totalitarian world of Democrat Party repression and inhuman leftist indifference and demonization. God willing the people will rise up against the Obama tyranny soon enough, at the ballot box in November, and by the bullet if that's what it takes in the end. A free people will not long tolerate the jackboot of dictatorship. Americans proved that to the world once over 200 years ago. Perhaps will see the Spirit of '76 rekindled here again soon, not unlike the protesters in Venezuela and Ukraine are doing at this very moment.

Yes, because it's so unreasonable to think the guys calling for a Second American Civil War might not be such awesome people.  That's "demonization", apparently.  Heaven forbid we share license plate data, that's so much worse.

And yes, these assholes hate Obama and the Democrats enough to all but call for their murder of them and their supporters.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Last Call For Ukraine Migraine

In Kiev, opposition forces have now put President Viktor Yanukovich into the "ousted, former leader" category, but the headache in the Crimea region is just starting.

Ukraine's interim leadership pledged to put the country back on course for European integration now Moscow-backed Viktor Yanukovich had been ousted from the presidency, while the United States warned Russia against sending in its forces.

As rival neighbors east and west of the former Soviet republic said a power vacuum in Kiev must not lead to the country breaking apart, acting president Oleksander Turchinov said late on Sunday that Ukraine's new leaders wanted relations with Russia on a "new, equal and good-neighborly footing that recognizes and takes into account Ukraine's European choice".

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will travel to Ukraine on Monday, where she is expected to discuss measures to shore up the ailing economy.

Russia said late on Sunday it had recalled to Moscow its ambassador in Ukraine for consultations on the "deteriorating situation" in Kiev.

A day after Yanukovich fled to the Russian-speaking east following dozens of deaths during street protests aimed at toppling him, parliament named new speaker Turchinov as interim head of state. An ally of the ousted leader's long-jailed rival Yulia Tymoshenko, he aims to swear in a government by Tuesday that can provide authority until a presidential election on May 25.

The last thing Vlad Putin wants is for Ukraine to join the EU, and by extension, NATO.  This whole mess started because Yanukovich basically ignored the will of the people to join the EU in order to keep Putin happy.  All that has now fallen apart, but it doesn't mean sunshine and roses in Kiev just yet, either.  Ukraine's economy is in shambles right now.

In addition to any economic assistance the EU might offer, the U.S. has also promised help. Budgets are tight on both sides of the Atlantic, and international creditors may be wary of Yanukovich's opponents, whose previous spell in government was no economic success, but a desire to avoid instability and back what looks to Western voters like a democratic movement menaced by Russian diktat may loosen purse strings, at least to tide Ukraine over until elections.

In Russia, where Putin had wanted Ukraine as a key part in a union of ex-Soviet states, the finance minister said the next tranche of a $15-billion loan package agreed in December would not be paid, at least before a new government is formed.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to his office, told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry the opposition had "seized power" by force by ignoring an EU-brokered truce that would have left Yanukovich in office for the time being.

So no, Russia's in no mood to help out.  The good news is the EU is in position to help, at least in the short run.  We'll see how this works out.

Imprisoned By Fear

Texas Republican Michael McCaul is chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, and wants everyone to know that American super-max prisons are the only solution to hold the world's most dangerous criminals.

The chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security is encouraging Mexico's authorities to extradite drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman (wah-KEEN' el chah-poh gooz-MAHN') to the United States to ensure he remains behind bars.

Guzman was arrested Saturday morning in the resort city of Mazatlan, Mexico.

Republican Michael McCaul calls Guzman the world's most notorious drug lord and says on ABC's "This Week" that his arrest is a significant victory for Mexico and the United States.

Guzman faces at least seven federal indictments.

McCaul said it's Mexico's call on where Guzman faces prosecution, but he noted that Guzman escaped from prison in 2001 and corruption continues to plague Mexico.

McCaul says Guzman would end up "in a super-max prison" in the U.S. from which he could not escape.

So Guzman, the Mexican drug kingpin, the "world's most notorious drug lord", well we would have to extradite him to the US in order to face our justice system so he can spend the rest of his life in a super-max cell.  Got it.  What about, you know, other criminals?

McCaul said efforts to close Gitmo were impractical and questioned where detainees suspected of terrorism could be housed.

“The president's position was let's just close it down and find a solution to this,” he said. “I think the reverse should be true and that is we ought to be trying to find how to deal with them before we close this facility down.

Name me one American city that would like to host these guys -- these terrorists in their country?,” asked McCaul.

Oh, so absolutely we must put the world's most notorious drug lord in a US super-max, a man so dangerous he had his own personal army that viciously fought military troops and killed civilians (completely unlike a terrorist), a criminal so ruthless and rich he regularly made Forbes's list of World Billionaires and Most Powerful People, but we can never, ever put some angry former goat herder from Yemen in a US super-max because unlike El Chapo, there's too much of a risk of reprisal to the surrounding community.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Case Of Sparkling Perry Error

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has apparently come up with the perfect GOP delusion on immigration:  reforming it magically no longer matters!

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, no stranger to the tough debate over the nation’s immigration laws, thinks recent legislation passed by Mexico’s Congress, a major priority of President Enrique Pena Nieto, may have set in motion a reversal of the flow of undocumented immigrants northward. In a short time, Perry said in an interview Saturday, undocumented immigrants may be streaming back over the U.S.-Mexico border, headed for lucrative energy sector jobs back home.

The landscape on immigration is fast changing,” Perry said. “My instinct is that immigration and immigration reform are going to be substantially less of a flashpoint than they have been in the last several years.”

 So what miracle is this that will see undocumented workers flood back south to Mexico?  Drill baby drill!

The change, Perry predicted, will come as private investors begin taking stakes in Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil monopoly. In December, Mexico’s Senate ratified outlines of legislation that would allow private investment in the company, which could eventually lead to complete privatization. Outside analysts believe the new rules will eventually make Mexico one of the world’s largest oil producers.

The new jobs that result from the energy boom, Perry predicted, will attract immigrant labor that would otherwise come to the United States.

Well, if you're, say, Halliburton or Exxon/Mobil, getting in on the ground floor of Mexico's oil boom, with cheap labor and zero Environmental Protection Agency in the way, has got to be the economic equivalent of snorting Viagra off of supermodels.  America's energy giants will be stabbing each other in the back (and the front) to get the lion's share of this.

Bonus points:  dangerous and heavily armed Mexican drug cartels means private military contractors will be making fat cash too conducting "security operations" and "dealing with the locals" for the oil guys.

It's Iraq all over again.  Only a lot closer.  No wonder Rick Perry can barely contain himself.

Now whether or not this "reverses" the flow of undocumented immigrants from the south, Republicans can say it will and just ignore immigration reform.  In this scenario, Obama gets zero credit and the demographic changes in border states slow dramatically, so they think they can ignore it completely, anyway.

“At that point in time, this whole issue of immigration reform, I think loses a lot of steam. And then the immigration debate may become, how are we going to efficiently allow people into this country to fill the agricultural or hospitality or construction jobs that these people had historically been filling,” Perry said.

Perry said that takes the pressure off Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, where immigration reform legislation has stalled in recent months after passing the Senate.

“I would suggest [Congressional Republicans] continue to push for a federal solution to securing the border, working with the states,” Perry said.

I'm betting voters might not agree.

Obamacare Takes The Stage In Florida...Or Does It?

Next month's special election for the House seat of the late GOP Rep. Bill Young in Florida's 10th District is all about how the Sunshine State's senior citizens feel about Obamacare.  Democrat Alex Sink is backing the program 100%, and her GOP opponent, David Jolly, is attacking Sink over it.  But Republicans have bigger problems in Florida, namely Social Security.

No matter the winner, Democrats appear to have little chance to capture the 17 seats needed to win a House majority in November. Yet this race has drawn national attention also because Obamacare figures prominently already in races in the Senate, where enough seats appear competitive nine months before Election Day to give Republicans an opportunity at winning control.

The candidates took different paths to their March 11 matchup to serve out the term of the late Republican Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young, who died last fall.

Sink, 65, had a career in banking before she was elected the state's chief financial officer in 2006. A longtime resident of Tampa in next-door Hillsborough County, she is attacked by Republicans and their allies as a carpetbagger for moving over the county line into the district in preparation for the campaign.

Jolly, 41, was born in the congressional district. Yet he has long experience in Washington, first as an aide to Young, whom he features in his advertising and public remarks, and then as a lobbyist. Democrats seized on his lobbying work, saying he was retained by a special interest that wants to privatize Social Security.

The Social Security privatization scheme card goes a long way in Florida, as both McCain and Romney found out.

The race to serve the balance of Young's term has attracted outside groups on
the left and the right even though evidence is spotty at best that so-called special elections can predict which party will win a nationwide fall campaign.

Each one "has its own particularly unique and hyperlocal dynamics," said New York Rep. Steve Israel, who heads the House Democratic campaign organization.

And for all the attention paid to Obamacare, Republicans betray concern that Sink's persistent attacks linking Jolly to efforts to privatize Social Security are paying dividends.

What's this?  Obamacare is not the noose around Democrats' necks that Republicans hoped it would be?

We'll see.

The Great Wall Of Orange

Just a reminder that GOP House Speaker John Boehner has spent his entire career in Congress opposing minimum wage hikes, and that if it were up to him, the federal minimum wage would still be where it was when he first arrived in Congress in 1991:  $4.25 an hour.

Speaker John Boehner is so against raising the minimum wage that he once said he would rather commit suicide than vote for a “clean” increase.

The Ohio Republican and son of a barkeep has repeatedly opposed federally mandated hike increases, which have been a constant in the Democrats’ election-year playbook.Boehner has “always believed that it's a job killer,” former Ohio Rep. Steve LaTourette, a labor-friendly Republican who is close to Boehner, told The Hill. He pointed to the Congressional Budget Office’s recent report that found that increasing the minimum wage could cost the economy 500,000 jobs.

Some Democrats are optimistic Boehner will cave and allow a vote this year, but the record shows there is little if any daylight between the pro-business Speaker and his conservative conference on this issue.

Boehner made the comments about suicide in an April 1996 interview with The Weekly Standard.

I’ll commit suicide before I vote on a clean minimum-wage bill,” Boehner, then the head of the House Republican Conference, said at the time.

Nice guy, John Boehner, right?  And let's keep in mind Ohio has a higher state minimum wage at $8 an hour.  How does he keep getting elected?  Oh that's right, his district is the blood red Butler County suburbs north of Cincy where the only people making minimum wage are the people who don't live there.

Four months later, President Clinton over Boehner’s objections signed a minimum wage hike into law that lifted the wage by 90 cents, from $4.25 per hour to $5.15.

It wasn’t a clean wage hike because it included some Republican sweeteners such as tax breaks aimed at small businesses. The bill passed the Senate, 76-22 and cleared the House, 354-72. Boehner voted no.

Boehner voted against the wage hike again in 2007, when Democrats took over the House majority and in one of their first actions voted to lift the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour.

And he still did everything he could to block it.   But he cares about Ohio's working class.  Sure he does.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Last Call For Going It Alone

President Obama's 2015 budget proposal happily omits the part where "compromise to the GOP in exchange for being called a fascist tyrant" happens, and the reality of leverage sets in.

On Wednesday, the White House released some early details of the president's 2015 budget proposal, which is due out next month. The biggest news is that the budget will propose $56 billion in new spending, while dropping a key compromise that would result in smaller Social Security benefits. The latter idea, known as "chained CPI," would alter how the government calculates benefits increases for social welfare programs, and it's generally opposed by liberals. (You can read our more thorough explainer on chained CPI here.)

That might sound like an insignificant bit of wonky gibberish, but it's actually a sharp reversal. Obama proposed chained CPI in his budget last year, hoping it would convince Republicans to compromise on revenue increases. It was an attempt at striking that mythical "grand bargain" Obama and congressional Republicans have been talking about for years. But Republicans vehemently opposed any new tax revenue, and now Obama is no longer even offering the chained CPI carrot.

"Unfortunately, Republicans refused to even consider the possibility of raising some revenue,"said Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman. "That is an unfortunate policy choice that Republicans themselves have made."

To be sure, White House budget proposals are largely symbolic documents that outline a president's ideal budget, not the budget that will actually be passed by Congress. But by yanking a GOP-friendly proposal from the outset, Obama has made clear that negotiating with Republicans is a hopeless cause.

The good news is now President Obama doesn't have to offer anything to the GOP in order to be called a fascist tyrant, so it's a bit of a time-saver.

Bachmanniac's Audition For A FOX News Job

Michele Bachmann may be leaving the House GOP at the end of the year, but she's stumping hard for a job over in Rupert Murdoch's team starting in 2015, it seems.

In an interview published Wednesday, Bachmann said that Barack Obama won the presidency because white people felt too guilty about past racial injustices. "I think there was a cachet about having an African-American president because of guilt," she said in an interview with Cal Thomas, a syndicated conservative columnist.

Yes, because President Jesse Jackson won so overwhelmingly in 1992.  Why, America has a long line of African-American presidents preceding Mr. Obama.  They just all happen to live in Bachmann's empty, empty head.

Seriously, the "Obama only won because of white guilt" is the perfect meme for these idiots. It allows them to simultaneously pretend that evolution-rejecting, climate change-denying douchebags who think women's bodies naturally produce a substance that prevents pregnancy during rape are somehow not the "low-information voters" screwing up America, while also pretending that the party of "Hey there's nothing wrong with pictures of Obama with a bone through his nose and his wife Moochelle" aren't the racists, but the guilty white liberals, the "race-hustling" black Democrats, and the "illegal Mexicans" are.

Oh, but let's not forget the War on Women, which doesn't exist because Republican love women.

Bachmann didn't stop there. She thinks Hillary Clinton has poor odds of winning the presidency in 2016. "People don't hold guilt for a woman," she said, explaining that much of the country isn't prepared to elect a women as president. "I don’t think there is a pent-up desire."

Why if I didn't know better, I'd think Shelly here was trying to pit white Obama voters versus black ones.  Those eeeeevil black people and those race traitor liberals will be "responsible" for Obama's wins until the day she dies.

More Voter Suppression In Ohio

As expected, Ohio Republicans rammed through two late-night bills Wednesday to cut early voting and same-day registration, and to end mailing absentee ballots to all Ohioans.

Ohio lawmakers passed two restrictive Republican voting bills Wednesday night, raising the prospect that casting a ballot this fall could be much more difficult, especially for minority voters.

With Ohio remaining the key presidential swing state, the changes could also affect the 2016 election.

The state Democratic Party said immediately that it would sue in federal court to block the laws.

“In 2014, I never imagined that I would be in a statehouse trying to fight for the rights to vote,” said state Rep. Alicia Reece, a Democrat, on the floor.

On party lines, the House voted 59-37 to approve a GOP bill that would cut six days from the state’s early voting period. More importantly, it would end the so-called “Golden Week,” when Ohioans can register and vote on the same day. Same-day registration is among the most effective ways for bringing new voters into the process, election experts say.

The House also voted by 60-38 to approve a bill that would effectively end the state’s successful program of mailing absentee ballots to all registered voters. Under the bill, the secretary of state would need approval from lawmakers to mail absentee ballots, and individual counties could not do so at all. Nearly 1.3 million Ohioans voted absentee in 2012. The bill also would make it easier to reject absentee ballots for missing information.

When they say there's "no difference" between the two major political parties, remember that one party is trying to make voting as difficult as possible, and trying to limit who is allowed to vote.   That's because the Republicans don't want you to vote.  They know that the more difficult it is for the poor and working-class, college students, the elderly and urban minorities to vote, they more the GOP wins.

The only way the Republican party can win in 2014 is to disenfranchise or discourage as many Democrats as possible.

That's what they have to do.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Last Call For The War Of Southern Microaggressions

Why, I can't possibly imagine why putting the flag of a defeated, traitor group dedicated to the preservation of slavery as a basis of economic and social power on a Georgia license plate would piss anyone off.

The state of Georgia has released a new specialty license tag that features the Confederate battle flag, inflaming civil rights advocates and renewing a debate on what images should appear on state-issued materials.

The new specialty tag has stirred a clash between those who believe the battle flag honors Confederate heritage and those, particularly African-Americans, who view it as a racially charged symbol of oppression.

Because it is, thanks.

A spokesman for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said Tuesday that the state should not have sanctioned the battle emblem to appear on a Georgia tag.

“To display this is reprehensible,” said Maynard Eaton. “We don’t have license plates saying ‘Black Power.’”

Like that would ever be allowed on a license plate anywhere.

For their part, the Georgia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said it meant no offense. People have a right to commemorate their heritage, and the state would be discriminating if it rejected the group’s application, said spokesman Ray McBerry.

By sanctioning the plate, they are not saying they agree with our organization. They’re just saying it’s a level playing field,” he said.

Sure.  Because slavery was a level playing field.

Here's my question, "Heritage Not Hate" people.  You're celebrating a bunch of literal and actual traitors to the United States of America, a group that declared open warfare on the country and did so by engaging in a war that killed three-quarters of a million Americans, or about 2% of the entire population of the country, all over the fact that slavery was the economic powerhouse of the rural South.  Not that the rest of the Union was super awesome to Native Americans, Mexicans, Irish, Chinese and anyone else who wasn't Anglo-Saxon in general derivation, but you don't see people raising "Sons of the Veterans of the Mexican-American War" or "The Trail Of Tears Was Awesome And Stuff" license plates, right?

Why would you want to raise that battle flag?  At the very best, you're saying "I don't want to be part of the United Stated of America" while you're free to tool around in your big ass truck or whatever and can drive to any state in the lower 48, and look like an asshole doing it.  Can't stop you from being an asshole, but you can maybe not get a state-sanctioned license plate declaring it to all of Earth, maybe?


Meanwhile, In Wisconsin

Virginia, New Jersey, now in Wisconsin yet another Republican governor faces an investigation for wrongdoing in his office.  Scott Walker, come on down! 

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has been eyeing a 2016 presidential run since his battles with labor unions made him a Republican star, is in the midst of dealing with the fallout of two criminal investigations at home that could complicate his move to the national stage.

One is ongoing, and while the other is now closed with no allegations of wrongdoing by Walker, it has the lingering potential to embarrass him.

That could begin as early as Wednesday with the release of more than 25,000 pages of e-mails from an ex-staffer that were gathered as part of the now-concluded investigation. The probe focused on Walker’s time as Milwaukee County executive before his 2010 election as governor and led to convictions of six former aides and allies.

Even if Walker escapes the e-mail release unscathed, he faces an additional inquiry from state prosecutors, who are believed to be looking into whether his successful 2012 recall campaign illegally coordinated with independent conservative groups.

 But ever the fair and balanced, the Washington Post ends thusly:

If conservative groups succeed in undermining the investigation’s legitimacy, the result could ironically convert the probe from a possible Walker weakness into an unexpected strength, rallying conservatives around a governor perceived to be holding firm against liberal bullies.

Course, they would need help from outlets like the Washington Post for that, right?

Dave Weigel has more on those 27k plus emails released yesterday:

Among the pile of emails, it was found that Walker also used his campaign email to conduct county executive business. In June 2010, Walker emailed the conservative radio host Charlie Sykes and encouraged him to get information on Democratic groups from his office. "Ask [my official office] and we would be happy to send over the info," Walker wrote.

Not illegal, just immoral.  Oh, and at least one of those emails appears to be pretty damning in the "illegal and immoral" department.

"Consider youself now in the 'inner circle,'" Walker's administration director, Cynthia Archer, wrote to Walker aide Kelly Rindfleisch just after the two exchanged a test message.

"I use this private account quite a bit to communicate with SKW and Nardelli. You should be sure you check it throughout the day," she wrote, referring to Walker by his initials and to Walker's chief of staff, Tom Nardelli.

Using state resources to coordinate his recall campaign is going to be a big problem for Scott Walker, no matter how the Wingers try to spin it.

Too Close To Home - Hailey Owens

By now, most of you have heard about what happened to Hailey Owens of Springfield, Missouri.  For those who have not, this timeline of events is helpful to fill in details.  They have stayed true with what all sources agree on without the extra speculation.

SPRINGFIELD, MO (KCTV/AP) -A body believed to be that of Hailey Owens was found Wednesday at a Springfield home owned by the suspect, Police Chief Paul Williams said at a news conference. Official confirmation won't occur until after an autopsy, but the chief said police "have a high degree of confidence" in the preliminary identification. 
Police say Craig Michael Wood, 45, is jailed on suspicion of first-degree murder but formal charges have not been filed. The Greene County prosecutor is reviewing the case. 
A grade school coach has been jailed on suspicion of first-degree murder in the abduction and death of a 10-year-old Springfield girl. 

The details of what happened after the abduction aren't clear and won't be for a long time.  It all happened so fast.  Violent crime always does. The people left behind can take a long time to put the pieces together.  A few press releases have been slowly letting pieces emerge, but this will take days, if not weeks, to unravel. What we know is that a little girl has died, and someone evil made the choice for it to happen.  The local response has been immediate and overwhelming.  It has been a rare and eye-opening thing to read about something major from both the local and national perspectives.  

So what do I have to add?  I can say with authority that Springfield citizens pulled together as fast as they could.  When the abduction occurred, one person tried to follow in their car, and another called and reported the license plate.  According to this timeline, I had something on my Facebook within thirty minutes (I didn't see anything until it was too late, but it was on there).  Pictures and information flowed and ad hoc pipelines did a fair job of stifling rumors.  The response was huge and incredibly personal.  Within an hour, my Facebook feed was a barrage of photos as people tried to help.  The Springfield Police Department was not able to save Hailey, but they were there within a few short hours.  Their effort was commendable, and they have been professional and solid so far.  From the moment of abduction until the suspect was in custody, not quite four hours elapsed. In that short time, a terrible crime was committed and a little girl was lost.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Last Call For Houseplant Slash Muscle

Need to lighten things up around here, so we leave you tonight with the new Guardians of the Galaxy trailer that premiered last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Ahh, Peter Quill, forever stuck in the 80's.  John C. Reilly and Peter Serafinowicz in the Nova Corps, evil blue Karen Gilliam as Nebula, mostly evil green Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Djimon Hounsou as Korath The Pursuer (Marvel so does love to name their cosmic level badasses "X The Archetype") makes any movie better, and I get Rocket Raccoon and Groot shooting rooms full of things?  Definitely looking forward to this one in August, and looks totally faithful to the comic's bonkers style mix of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy meets Chronicles of Riddick on the set of a Billy Idol video.  You know, Farscape with less introspection and more 10 foot tall tree guys.

It's looking to be glorious fun.  Can't wait.

Kansas's Discrimination Bill Gets The Business

A week ago, state legislation that Kansas Republicans sponsored that would allow businesses and state employees to refuse goods and services to same-sex couples under the guise of "religious freedom" looked like a sure bet as it sailed through the Kansas House.

Denying services to same-sex couples may soon become legal in Kansas.

House Bill 2453 explicitly protects religious individuals, groups and businesses that refuse services to same-sex couples, particularly those looking to tie the knot.

It passed the state's Republican-dominated House on Wednesday with a vote of 72-49, and has gone to the Senate for a vote.

This week, it crashed and burned in the Kansas Senate.

A controversial religious freedom bill passed by the Kansas House will never make it to the Senate floor or even be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

On Tuesday, Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, officially closed the door on House Bill 2453, which gained international attention and inspired a Twitter hash tag.

“We’re not going to work the bill,” he said. “House Bill 2453 is kaput.”

Why the change in heart?  Oh, Kansas Republicans are still gay-hating bigots, but Kansas businesses stepped in and told the GOP to knock it off because the legislation (and the impending boycotts and lawsuits it would produce) would affect their bottom lines.

One of Kansas' largest employers is joining a myriad of other companies in opposing a bill some say would discriminate against gay couples.

Sprint Corp., which employs 7,600 people locally and ranks third on the Kansas City Business Journal's Top Area Private-Sector Employers list, said Monday that it disagrees with the "protecting religious freedom" measure. If passed, House Bill 2453 would allow businesses and government entities to deny same-sex couples goods and services on the basis of religious freedom.

"At Sprint, we have a commitment to inclusion and having a workplace that is supportive of all employees," Sprint spokesman John Taylor wrote in an email. "Inclusion and diversity serve as guiding principles for our company. They help us create an atmosphere fostering creativity and effectiveness, providing employees, suppliers, customers and members of the community an opportunity to feel included and valued."

The Overland Park-based telecom company joins AT&T Inc. and other Kansas businesses in protesting the bill. Among the organizations are Kansas City Power & Light Co. and theWichita Independent Business Association.

Bottom line:  any big national or international corporation doing business in Kansas under this legislation would have a host of legal, public relations, and ethical nightmares to deal with, all thanks to the idiots in the Kansas GOP,  so they stepped in and reminded the Republicans exactly who they work for. When bigotry affects the quarterly earnings reports, the people who really run the GOP get that culture war nonsense sorted out in record time.

Discrimination against customers is bad for business?  Who knew?  The only color on the rainbow flag that matters to the corporate wing of the GOP is green.  Interfere with that, and suddenly the Tea Party gets miraculously handled.

Funny how that works.

Read more here:

Rush (Holt): A Farewell To Kings (Of Science)

New Jersey Democrat Rush Holt, the party's point man on science and technology legislation and former research physicist, is leaving the House after twelve years.

Mr. Holt is perhaps most popularly known as the five-time “Jeopardy!” champion who later won a celebrity round against Watson, the IBM supercomputer. In and around Princeton, where he had been assistant director of the Plasma Physics Laboratory, bumper stickers on Priuses proudly proclaim “My Congressman IS a Rocket Scientist.”

He has consistently pushed for more money for scientific research, and better science education, securing $22 billion for research in the stimulus bill, and grants of $16,000 for students who prepare to teach math, science or foreign languages.

“I’m not sure we have anyone in the Congress with his level of deep understanding of what it is going to take for the American scientific enterprise to thrive in the future,” said Shirley M. Tilghman, a molecular biologist and former president of Princeton.

Among his other accomplishments, Mr. Holt said he was proudest of getting “tens of millions” of dollars for suicide prevention among members of the military, and for securing state matching programs for land and water conservation. He also helped arrange citizenship for the family of a Pakistani man killed in a hate crime in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Particularly as Tea Party Republicans challenged the science of climate change in recent years, Mr. Holt argued vociferously for the importance of what he called “evidence based” debates.

Democrats will keep the seat pretty easily, I would expect, and I didn't always agree with him.  But the country will miss his intelligence, and he was one of the few NY/NJ politicians to admit that Palestinians actually qualify as human beings.  Go figure.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Last Call For The Most Unskewed Poll Ever

The DC Examiner is touting this YouGov poll, which apparently finds that well over half of Democrats now regret voting for President Obama in 2012.

Over seven in 10 Obama voters, and 55 percent of Democrats, regret voting for President Obama's reelection in 2012, according to a new Economist/ poll.

Conducted to test the media hype about a comeback by 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, the new poll found voters still uninspired by Romney, but also deeply dissatisfied with Obama who has so far failed to capitalize on his victory over 15 months ago.

The poll asked those who voted for Obama's reelection a simple question: “Do you regret voting for Barack Obama?”

— Overall, 71 percent said yes, 26 percent no.

— 80 percent of whites said yes, 61 percent of blacks said no and 100 percent of Hispanics said yes.

— 84 percent of women said yes, and just 61 percent of men agreed.

— 55 percent of Democrats said yes, as did 71 percent of independents.

Still, given the choice of Obama versus Romney, Obama supporters said they would stick with their guy, 79 percent to 10 percent for Romney.

Do you really believe that 71% overall, 84% of women, and 100% of Latino voters of the 65 million total Americans who cast their vote for President Obama now "regret" that vote?  If that's true, he should have approval ratings lower than Bush 43 did at the bottom of his abyss.

In other words, he should be down in the single digits with the GOP in Congress.  Strangely, that's not the case.

It's almost like this poll is ridiculously suspect.

Battle Of The Billionaires

The GOP is so beholden now to ultra-wealthy billionaire donors in a post Citizens United America that the future of the party will apparently be determined by which faction of networks of super-rich donors can buy out the most Republican politicians:  the Koch Brothers Tea Party machine, Karl Rove's disgraced but still powerful Crossroads donor network, or the new dark money on the block, Wall Street mogul Paul Singer's pro-LGBTQ, pro-immigration group, the American Opportunity Alliance.

On its face, it in some ways resembles a much smaller-scale version of Charles and David Koch’s fabled network, which brings together hand-picked operatives and politicians twice a year at tony resorts to make presentations to dozens of rich conservatives. At the conclusion of the Koch seminars, as they’re called, donors commit massive sums into a pool of cash disseminated to various Koch-backed groups for seven- and eight-figure advertising and organizing campaigns that have made them a force in Republican politics rivaling the official party.

That doesn’t appear to be the goal of Singer and his donors. While many of them — including Singer himself — have attended the Koch seminars and also maintain their own independent spending groups, their approach with the American Opportunity Alliance is more donor-centric, focusing on comparing notes about one another’s political projects and funneling limited hard-money contributions effectively.

In other words, the AOA guys are all about coordinating donations for pet projects for the corporate wing of the GOP.  It's nothing personal, just business.  At our expense, of course.

Still, the list of big-name pols expected at the American Opportunity Alliance’s upcoming Colorado gathering highlights the influence that only a few big donors can command in the post-Citizens United era, when a small group of wealthy individuals can reorder elections with just a few huge checks. That new reality has shifted some of the power and control once maintained by the parties and their candidates to factions of major donors, like the libertarian-infused Koch network on the right or the Democracy Alliance club of major liberal donors on the left.

Of course, the Democracy Alliance has only a fraction of the money that the Kochs, the AOA, or Karl Rove's boys do.  So now there's three huge groups of GOP donors, throwing hundreds of millions at Republicans to buy out state and federal elections, and virtually no hope of stopping them, or even coming close to matching them in order to fight fire with fire.

2014 is not looking good for our side, folks.

Gotta Break A Few Eggs

Another tragic death of a black teenager, this time for the crime of being a passenger in the wrong car when a man decides he's going to stop people from egging his son's car by drawing and using his firearm.

An Arkansas man faces a murder charge for allegedly gunning down a car filled with teenagers who had wanted to play a prank on his son. One of the passengers, 15-year-old Adrian Broadway, died from a gunshot wound to the head on Saturday.

The teens said they were pranking Willie Noble’s son by covering his car with eggs and leaves, which is when Noble reportedly arrived with a shotgun. “Apparently Mr. Noble’s teenage son had done a prank on some of the kids that were inside the vehicle on Halloween Night,” Lieutenant Sidney Allen said. “As a result they were doing a retaliation prank and it ultimately had deadly results.” In addition to first degree murder, Noble has been charged with committing a terrorist act and five counts of aggravated assault.

“It was supposed to be a prank,” Kortazha Williams, who was in the car with Broadway, told KTHV. “We were supposed to get up right now, and we were supposed to laugh.”

Yes, because the correct response to "Dad, these kids are going to egg my car in payback for a prank I pulled on them last Halloween" is "OK son, lemme open fire on them."  Superior parenting skills there.

But firearms didn't contribute to this death, right to responsibly own a firearm is in the Bill of Rights, yadda yadda whatever you tell yourself when stuff like this happens, right gun advocates?
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